My American Centuryby Studs Terkel, Robert Coles (Foreword by)
Born in 1912, Studs Terkel has witnessed the 20th century firsthand, commenting the entire way. For more than 30 years, millions of Americans have been moved by Terkel's oral histories, and in My American Century, he maintains the style that has made him an American icon. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has now collected/i>/i>
Born in 1912, Studs Terkel has witnessed the 20th century firsthand, commenting the entire way. For more than 30 years, millions of Americans have been moved by Terkel's oral histories, and in My American Century, he maintains the style that has made him an American icon. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author has now collected interviews with "ordinary" Americans to put together a compilation of his best work.
With a forward by noted American historian Robert Coles, in which Coles places Terkel in the context of his times, the book is divided into three segments. Part 1, entitled "The Dream," examines Americans and their pursuit of dreams, some lost and some found. In this section, Terkel gives a broad perspective of American ideologies as he interviews, among others, a Native American teacher, a Horatio Alger Award-winning businessman, an ex-Klansman, and the former director of the Immigration and Naturalization Services. They each give a perspective on the American dream and whether it can be attained. Various everyday Americans -- including a hustler, a gangster, and a farmer -- also comment on the Great Depression; others give their views on the history of World War II.
The second section focuses on a few Americans, but this time they comment on the American city. Terkel includes interviews with a cabbie, a neighborhood crusader, a con man, and a landlady, to name just a few. The interviews then take a different perspective as they focus on working in the city. A waitress, an auto worker, a professional hockey player, and others express their views.
The third and final section of My American Century is entitled "The Divide." Here Terkel examines the prevalent divisions of American society. He uses the views of a farmer, a trader, a teamster, and others to look at the great divide that exists in American culture, and again to explore the American dream. Terkel then focuses on race divisions, interviewing a white mother of six, an African American, and a man of mixed race. The book concludes with the story of America and a few who have lived it, as he interviews a CEO, a writer, an artist, and an environmentalist.
Through these interviews, Studs Terkel paints an intimate portrait of modern America. The wide range of voices provide a panoramic chronicle of the American experience, from the 1920s on. Terkel has delighted readers with his past works, and with this new book he again proves why he is an American icon.
As in his last book, The Coming of Age, it is the lack of a sense of history, of a sense of the immemorial resilience (and frequent contrariness) of the human spirit, that most troubles Terkel about our current times; and as always his work, while utterly realistic, is an antidote to despair. This collection, arranged chronologically by the periods the books covered, not by the dates of their original publication, is the best possible introduction to his splendid body of work.
- New Press, The
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.69(w) x 8.97(h) x 1.50(d)
Meet the Author
- Date of Birth:
- May 16, 1912
- Date of Death:
- October 31, 2008
- Place of Birth:
- New York, NY
- Place of Death:
- Chicago, IL
- J.D., University of Chicago, 1934
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